A 14-year labour of will, Jai Bhim Comrade is an epic eye-opener for those who are unfamiliar with India's severe caste discrimination. Filmmaker Anand Patwardhan prologues with the 1997 Ramabai Colony shootings that killed 10 Dalits - the oppressed, or "untouchables" - and proceeds to illuminate the socially destructive stratification that has existed for over 2,000 years. Meandering through the dusty alleys of Ramabai and the Maharashtra villages, songs of "upliftment" and lament are being passed on to younger generations, urging them to continue the struggle for dignity. Dalits sing to recall their heroes past - most notably the political leader Bhimrao Ambedkar - and to hope for a better future. In an ominous turn, his teachings are being deceptively subverted by casteist, vote-hungry politicians as dissenting Dalit voices are repressed. Times definitely look bleak, but Jai Bhim is meant to incite and outrage - and it does so with eloquence.
Anand Patwardhan is an Indian documentary filmmaker, known for his activism through social action documentaries on topics such as corruption, slum dwellers, nuclear arms race, citizen activism and communalism. Notable films include Bombay: Our City (1985), Ram ke Nam (In the Name of God) (1992), Pitr, Putr aur Dharmayuddha (Father, Son and Holy War) (1995), and Jang aur Aman (War and Peace) (2002), which have won national and International awards. His latest documentary is Jai Bhim Comrade (2011) based on police firing incident against 10 Dalits at Ramabhai Colony in Mumbai in 1997.
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